WIRE IN THE BLOOD
Scottish, Thu 14 Nov, 9pm 00
Think there‘s room to squeeze yet another police drama into the nation's television schedules? Maybe just. but it's scarcely worth it in this case. Based on the excellent crime novels of Val McDermid. Wire in the Blood — if the first episode is anything to go by — is a kind of low-rent. homebaked Silence of the Lambs. except we're Iumbered with Robson Green instead of Jodie Foster.
And sadly Robbo is the main problem here. Likeable enough when playing for soft laughs. he simply doesn't have the gravitas as an actor to pull off the part of idiOSyncratic criminal psychologist Dr Tony Hill, and ends up just piling on the quirks in an effort to hide his lack of subtlety.
A strong Supporting cast (including Hermione Cold Feet Norris). some neat plotting and pacing. and a snappy script almost save Wire in the Blood from Green‘s dramatic befuddlement. but not quite.
THE SPARTANS Channel 4, Sun 17 Nov, 8pm .00
Bettany Hughes is doing for classical histOry what Nigella did for food. Darting around modern- day Greece. her hair blowing romantically in the Aegean breeze. she brings an uncommon glamour to the art of reading ancient Greek inscnpnons.
Which is all a bit of a contrast to those spartan Spartans and their austere ways.
Theirs was the prototype organised society. each individual Sublimated for the common good. which was great for fighting battles. less good for freedom of expression.
And that poses a problem for television. Put Simply. there's not much to see. Apart from the lovely Bettany — lucid. literate and lively — there are just a few crumbling artefacts and a couple of low-budget battle recreations. We get Bettany on a boat. Bettany in a car. Bettany on the beach. but we don't get a very clear sense of what life as a Spartan was actually like. (Mark Fisher)
MAMMALS 8801, Wed 20 Nov, 9pm 0000
David Attenborough has been doing this natural world gig for 50 years now. yet the childlike enthusiasm he brings to his subject is truly captivating. In the introductory montage to this handsome-looking series. he sits in a small boat describing the scene as an example of the biggest creature which has ever lived lurches from the water within yards from his tiny wooden carrier. 'The blue whale!!!’ he ejaculates. nearly b0uncing out of his craft with ecstasy.
But if you had his job. you'd be a bit excitable. too. The official number- 63 Great Briton begins this adventure meeting the warm-blooded creatures of the world in the Arctic as he witnesses a fox go hunting before seeking out warmer climes to check out the egg-laying platypuses of Australia.
The photography. as ever, is stunning and the trivial facts are mouth- watering. Did you know that the honey possum has the biggest testes relative to its body size
in the mammalian world? No. me neither. (Brian Donaldson)
DOCUMENTARY BOOTYLICIOUS Channel 4, Sun 24 Nov, 10pm COO
Strewth. Channel 4 really are in trouble aren't they? This documentary finds the once discerning broadcaster straying ever closer to territory traditionally occupied by Five. exploring the current fixation with the female rear end. The obsesSion. we are told, is evidenced by the column inches taken up by J-Lo and Kylie's ample posteriors. This being Channel 4. shots of peachy. wobbling bottoms have to be interspersed by po-faced comment and analysis. The only vaguely serious point made by the film is that the voluptuous 'black' female figure — once disparaged by colonial observers as evrdence of physical inferiority — is now envred as a symbol of womanly strength. This ‘bum envy' has led to an exponential rise in requests for 'butt- jobs' filmed in the requisne gory surgery scene. with pints of fat being sucked out of the waist and pumped back into rear ends. Bootylicious. indeed. as Bernard Matthews might have said. (Allan Radcliffei
DOCUMENTARY LIVING FAMOUSLY 8802, Mon 25 Nov, 3.30pm 000
Did yOu know that Oliver Reed liked a drink or two. and was a far
DANIEL DERONDA BBC1, Sat 23 Nov, 9pm .00
Historical drama by numbers
Screenwriter Andrew Davies seems to churn out these classic adaptations for the BBC at an alarming rate. I imagine the silver-haired scribe presiding over some grim scriptwriting factory, whose workers are engaged in the hacking up, manufacturing and reconstitution of great works of literature
for a couple of guineas.
For this year’s winter warmer, Davies has stuck a pin in his well-thumbed copy of the Cambridge Guide to English Literature and happened upon George Eliot’s little-known final novel, Daniel Deronda. This is the one about spoilt, idle Gwendolen Harleth (played with an intense level of pouty disdain by the up-and-coming Romola Garai) who marries dastardly Henleigh Grandcourt to avoid a life of poverty. Finding herself shackled to a brute, Gwendolen becomes increasingly drawn to the angelic, sensitive Daniel Deronda, a young man of ambiguous origins (Hugh Dancy — nice cheekbones, luscious lips, not much else).
Despite the lovely costumes and settings, and the pleasures of Hugh Bonneville and David Bamber’s gloriously hammy performances as Grandcourt and his weasly acolyte Lush, this really is historical drama by numbers. Typically, Davies’ adaptation reduces the complexity and boldness of Eliot’s themes - most notably anti~semitism and the cold, hard
currency of love - to a series of pretty set pieces.
There’s the mandatory dance scene, the after-dinner singing/piano- playing bit, sequences of horse riding and archery and lots of smouldering looks and unyielding upper lips. But the piece lacks energy and charisma, particularly among the younger members of the cast, making the whole thing feel rather plodding and passionless. (Allan Radcliffe)
better actor than he was given credit for? Yes. we were all aware of that. No slot on the schedule seems sacred for the non-stop nostalgia juggernaut. but the middle of the weekday afternoon seems particularly obtuse.
Still. there are some choice clips of Olly acting Russell Crowe off
the screen in Gladiator
and warming down after
his roaring fire wrestle With Alan Bates for lid/(Nille in Love. While he was able to drink anybody under the table for England. he died on the floor of a Malta boo/er after arm- wrestling some British squaddies and was buried in the rural
l~'- I934, Nth. 3
Ireland he'd come to call home.
You can only hope that the further editions In the series tell us more about Grace Kelly than that she was an insatiable maneater. or that Bogart was a moody loner or that Clark Gable frankly couldn't give a damn. (Brian Donaldson)
.fti.) THE LIST ‘I 1 1